Taschen book – a handsome addition to the Muybridge bibliography

It’s some weeks now since the new Taschen book popped through my letter box. Or rather, was heaved up to my front door by a gasping delivery man. At 804 large-format pages, it’s some tome. I’ve now had a chance to look through it, and Eadweard Muybridge – The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs certainly lives up to expectations. Hans-Christian Adam’s introductory essay, a comprehensive and contextual overview of Muybridge’s life and work is in English, German and French, with alternative illustrations for each, allowing glimpses of the unique cyanotypes, large format landscapes, and stereoviews that are not part of Muybridge’s motion sequence work.

Next comes what, for me, is the most useful part of the book – the entire 200-plus plates from the rare album The Attitudes of Animals in Motion (1881). Some are shown somewhat reduced, four to a page; others are enlarged, one to a page. This arrangement has meant that some juggling has been necessary, so the plates are not is strict order – but a plate that’s out of sequence is only a page-turn away. The large reproductions of the skeleton horse are especially stunning. Muybridge’s 1879-80 Palo Alto work has never before been republished, and with less than 20 original albums in existence, has always been rather difficult to get to see. All of the images are on the web, but not in a way that is easy to access, so this section of the book alone is worth the price.

The following section comprises the complete 1887 Animal Locomotion, all 781 plates. Some have a page to themselves, others are arranged with either two or four plates to the page, and there are some extra whole-page close-up views showing parts of sequences. It’s more than 30 years since Dover published all of the University of Pennsylvania work in three large volumes, so this new publication by Taschen, despite the reduced size of some plates, is very welcome. Finally an edited version of my Chronology (also in English, German and French), a select Bibliography, and an Index of Plates complete the volume.

Beautifully printed – and the publication of this magnificent and very affordable book means that a quality trove of Muybridge’s motion photography will be accessible to all who have an interest in the subject.

Taschen Fall/Winter 2010 catalogue pages

The published title was different from that shown on Amazon. (Two or more names for one Muybridge book isn’t unusual – which is kind of fitting.)

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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